FPL Price Hike Hits Okaloosa County Schools

$800,000.

It’ll cost the Okaloosa County School District an additional $800,000 to keep the lights on every year – thanks to the recent rate increase which was approved by the state’s utility commission late last year.

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Okaloosa County Deputy Superintendent Steve Horton

“It’s at the same rate that everyone in Okaloosa County’s bill is going up – percentage wise,” said Deputy Superintendent Steve Horton. The total expected cost for ‘energy services’ for Okaloosa County Schools in Fiscal Year 2021-2022 was $8.1 Million, according to this document on the school districts website. That means they must cope with a 10% increase in their power bill for this and future budgets.

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Florida Power And Light announced rate increases earlier this year for Niceville Florida Residents

Florida Power and Light (FPL) says that the increase is to fund hurricane preparedness and the creation of solar farms.

This will mean some financial reshuffling in order to make ends meet, Horton said.

While the $800,000 is a small number compared to the entire school district’s more than $400,000,000 budget, it can still have an impact.

The school district can’t directly use the money from the Okaloosa half-cent sales tax, which voters approved in 2020, to cover the additional power costs. The district is also not able to directly use money coming in from the federal government to cover the costs of electricity. But that money can help the district absorb the costs of the increase in a roundabout way.

Deputy Superintendent Steve Horton says that the cost savings generated by the new HVAC systems in various schools, as well as the ESSER budget grant (which was a part of The American Rescue Plan) will help to keep the budget balanced. Florida law requires school districts to have a balanced budget.

The school district cannot count on more money from the state at this point in the year, according to deputy superintendent Horton. The school district will have to discuss further how they will deal with the line item increase from FPL when they approve a budget this summer.

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